Friday, December 13, 2013

Interview (11) - let me introduce you to Stephanie

Hi, I'm Stephanie and I'm a girl who can't sit still. Over the past four years I have traveled across five continents, dozens of countries and had many, many adventures. I write about my experiences on Twenty-Something Travel.

What was your inspiration or the event/idea that made you want to travel?
I was working full time in an office and I took a trip to Iceland. A friend and I spent about a week driving the Ring Road and it was one of the most amazing experiences I've ever had. It helped me remember how much I love travel and discovery and afterwards I resolved to rearrange my life.

What was your first travel experience?
When I was nine my parents bought a motorhome and we spent three months driving all over the United States.

Have you ever felt lonely travelling solo?
Sure, I think everyone does once in awhile. For me the benefits far outweigh those moments.

Do you have any fun stories of things that happened to you that you realized even at the time, “This never would have happened if I had been traveling with someone else?”
I've had a lot of people come talk to me who might not have if I wasn't alone. Particularly in Cambodia people would come sit down with me and chat. Their first question was always “where is your husband?”

What was your best travel experience?
Skinny dipping in Ha Long Bay Vietnam. It was freezing but the water was full of phosphorescent
plankton that shimmered and lit up when you moved. Magical.

Is there anything you would have done differently/ any regrets, if you could do it over again?
Not really. I wish I learned to relax and go with the flow a little bit earlier- would have saved me some needless nervous breakdowns.

What was your worst travel experience?
The first time I went to Mexico I got horrific food poisoning and ended up vomiting in an important businessman's car. I learned the hard way not to drink the water!

What’s the strangest situation you have found yourself in?
I spent four months living in China and pretty much every day brought some new surreal situation. I was constantly photographed and treated like a celebrity- it was pretty strange.

Where will you never return to?
I will give most places a second chance, but Australia is not high on my list. Too expensive, too similar to the United States.

What advice would you give women traveling solo to your home country?
Traveling solo in the United States is relatively safe but you will want to take the same common sense precautions as everywhere else.

What are your future travel plans?
I'm hanging out in Mexico for the next 6 months with my new husband. Not making a ton of plans, just eating great food and enjoying Mexican culture. After that, who knows.

What are your top three tips for women traveling solo?
  1. Don't let feat intimidate you.
  2. Always use your common sense- if something seems stupid, don't do it.
  3. Always keep an eye out for other women I need. I'm a big believer in the importance of looking out for one another.

What would you tell women who are looking to travel alone but worry about their safety?
Safety is always a concern and a real issue. I think the best thing to do is to listen to other women who have traveler where you want to go (thanks to travel blogs there are a lot). How did they do it?

Couchsurfing..what do you think about that?
I don't use it a lot but I think it's great! If women are worried about staying with shady guys the solution is simple: only stay with women!

How do you pay for a life of travel?
I'm a freelance writer and I run Twenty-Something Travel. It's a lot of work but I love it.

Tell us about the best food you have ever eaten on your travels?
Not sure I could ever narrow it down! My favorite country for eating is probably Vietnam. So much variety, so tasty and so so cheap. China is fantastic too, and of course Italy.

What is the most breathtaking view you have ever witnessed on your travels
Aforementioned Iceland. The place was brimming with amazing views, but my favorite was probably at the Blue Lagoon. It's steamy and strange and like another world.

What do you miss about your home when you go traveling?
My cat! Technically it's my mom's cat but she's a sweetheart and I mean, you can't skype a cat.

What item will you always carry in your backpack?
My kindle. I love love love to read and carrying a kindle is way easier than carrying a stack of books.

Who was the kindest or most generous person you met on your travels, and what did they do?
A Bosnian grandmother made me tea and soup when I had a bad cold. That has always stuck with me.

What have you learned from travelling?
That theres is a big difference between what you can't do and what you just think you can't do. Travel had taught me that I can make a lot of things happen just through willpower.

Who inspires you? What other travellers do you look up to?
Jodi from Legal Nomads! She's a good friend of mine but I really admire the way she fearlessly immerses herself in different cultures. She's not afraid to ask questions and talk to people, which is something I've always struggled with.

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